A vibrant peach and grilled chicken caprese salad that highlights summer’s best flavors. Made with juicy grilled chicken, sweet peaches, acidic tomatoes, punchy pickled red onions, and creamy mozzarella, it’s easy to swap and switch elements and make it your own.
On Healthcare and Other Rights
It’s getting even harder out here.
I’ve written before about beautiful peaches, “adjusting a red to a blue,” and societal upheaval. Here we are again.
Abortion is healthcare, plain and simple. That right to healthcare had been seriously eroded long before last week’s SCOTUS ruling. There are many out there who’ve seen this coming and have been creating networks to make care available. Listen to those folks; follow their lead. If you can, give to and follow the lead of a local abortion fund. Here in Charlottesville, Blue Ridge Abortion Fund is doing excellent work to connect folks with abortion care.
Peach and Grilled Chicken Caprese Salad
Because my weird job is sharing recipes on the internet, please allow this awkward transition to food and recipe talk. Food is a necessity, but it can also be a celebration of togetherness. So, even as everything’s terrible, here’s to carving out small moments of beauty, deliciousness, and community. I think we all need a little more of that these days.
This peach and grilled chicken caprese salad is peak summer eating – a simple protein surrounded by sweet peaches, cherry tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, quick-pickled red onions, and lots of fresh basil. This chicken caprese strays from the traditional recipe a bit, but with so many contrasting layers of flavor, it’s just delicious.
The salad starts simply enough, with grilled chicken. Chicken breasts can easily dry out, so I recommend getting them seasoned at least a few hours ahead of time. And while you preheat your grill or grill pan, set the chicken out to come to room temperature – thick breasts can be very cold in the center and really throw off cook times.
Prepping the Caprese
In prep, I like to get the red onions pickling first. Here, that just means tossing them with lemon juice and sea salt and letting them marinate while you prep everything else. For the salad I find a mix of sweet peaches and more acidic cherry tomatoes is delicious, but as the season progresses there’s room for variation and all-tomato or stone fruit versions.
I season each element ahead of time – lemon for the peaches, sea salt and pepper for the tomatoes and mozzarella – and then toss it all together in the moment so the flavors are heightened, yet distinct.
Traditional caprese salads rely on the acidity of tomatoes and olive oil for the dressing. Since the peaches don’t have quite the same pop, I’ve opted for a very simple mix of balsamic and olive oil drizzled over top.
And finally,the basil. The best way to chop basil is to make sure it’s completely dry, and then roll the leaves together (into a little basil cigar) and slice them into thin ribbons for a chiffonade. Basil makes this dish, so add it liberally.
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast (1 - 1 1/2 pounds total)
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons juice, divided
- 1/2 a red onion sliced into thin half moons
- 2 cups sliced peaches, from about 3 - 4 medium peaches
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 8 ounces mozzarella (I used smaller bocconcini), sliced
- 1/2 cup basil leaves cut into a chiffonade* (see note above for guidance)
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Working ahead, sprinkle the chicken on both sides with 1 - 2 teaspoons sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and lemon zest. Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil over each breast. Set in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight (cover container with plastic wrap to marinate overnight).
When ready to grill, set the chicken out to come to room temp (about 30 minutes) and prepare a hot grill or grill pan. For grilling, create zones of direct and indirect heat by banking the coals to one side.
Grill the chicken breast over direct heat for 3 - 4 minutes, then move over indirect heat until the internal temp hits 165 degrees F, 7 - 10 minutes longer. If using a grill pan, heat the pan over medium-high heat and cook each side for 5 minutes, covered. Continue cooking for up to another 5 minutes, until the internal temp hits 165 degrees F.
Set the grilled chicken on a cutting board to rest, and then slice across the grain into 1/2-inch thick slices.
Meanwhile, toss the red onion with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and a big pinch sea salt, and set aside.
Toss the peaches with remaining lemon juice. Toss cherry tomatoes with a pinch of sea salt. Toss sliced mozzarella with sea salt and pepper.
To serve, layer the peaches, sliced chicken, and mozzarella on a big platter. Scatter cherry tomatoes on top. Mix 2 tablespoons olive oil with the balsamic, and drizzle over the salad. Top with basil, flaky sea salt, and a few twists of ground black pepper, and serve.